Employees in Minnesota enjoy some state protected parental leave even if they do not qualify for the federal parental leave protections guaranteed by FMLA. While the leave is unpaid, it applies to a broader range of employers than FMLA covers. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers for pregnant, expecting and new parents working in Minnesota.
What Are My Maternity Leave Rights in Minnesota?
For women who are employees in Minnesota, there is no paid maternity leave required by law, per se. Your employer, of course, has the discretion to offer this benefit to employees. However, if your employer offers no paid leave, they are perfectly within their rights under both federal and state law.
Under federal law, Minnesota employers must follow the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child for eligible employees (see more below).
However, even if you don’t qualify for FMLA, you may also be entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off under Minnesota state law. Minnesota’s state law applies to companies and to state workers with 21 or more employees, to eligible employees. To be considered an eligible employee, you must have worked for this employer for at least 12 months prior and a minimum of half time.
Under Minnesota state law, eligible employees are entitled to take off up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for themselves during pregnancy, or incapacity due to pregnancy, childbirth or to care for a newborn baby or newly adopted child.
Am I Eligible for FMLA?
FMLA requires employers provide eligible employees with 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave in the year after the birth or adoption of a child. It is gender neutral but in order to qualify, you must meet certain requirements. We have previously summarized what you need to know about FMLA laws and FMLA forms here.
Is Minnesota’s Law Gender Neutral?
Yes, parents who are either mothers or fathers (including adoptive parents) are entitled to take parental leave.
When Does My Parental Leave Start?
Parental leave under Minnesota law must be taken within 12 months of a birth or adoption, but otherwise may begin whenever the employee chooses. Employers may adopt reasonable policies about when reasonable requests for leave must be made.
What If I Qualify for Both FMLA and Minnesota Law’s Parental Leave?
The two leave periods run concurrently, meaning that you will have qualify for a total of 12 weeks of paid leave if you qualify for parental leave under FMLA and Minnesota state law.
What If I Qualify for Paid Leave Under My Employer’s Policy and Minnesota State Law?
The total amount of parental leave cannot exceed 12 weeks and all leave policies (including paid time off and vacation and sick days used) will run concurrently. That may mean you are paid for a portion of your parental leave and the remainder covered under Minnesota state law or FMLA remains unpaid.
Do I Have To Take All My Parental Leave At Once?
Employees can choose to take parental leave intermittently so long as it is taken within the first 12 months of a child’s birth or adoption.
So I Will Not Receive Any Pay During This Time off?
Unfortunately, unless your employer voluntarily covers your salary during your leave or you have privately taken out short-term disability insurance prior to conception, your leave is unpaid. Consider these tips to cope with an unpaid maternity leave.
What Happens To My Benefits While I’m Out On Leave?
Similar to FMLA, any employer-provided health care benefits must be maintained during your pregnancy and parental leave period.
Is My Job Protected While I’m on Leave?
Under both FMLA and Minnesota state law, you are entitled to return to your job after taking leave. You are also entitled to the same benefits, seniority and any changes in the position you return to must involve comparable duties, hours and pay.
Are There Any Other Protections Under Minnesota Law for Pregnant Women?
Yes, no employer of any size may discriminate against pregnant employees. if an employer has more than 21 employees in a single work site, the employer must also provide certain accommodations provided that she show a doctor’s note or medical evidence that these accommodations are necessary: more frequent bathroom and water breaks, seating arrangements and a limiting on lifting more than 20 pounds.
What If I Believe My Parental Leave Rights Are Being Violated?
You may contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and file a complaint.
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